The Power of the Dark Lord

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010

 

 


Chapter IX

They had toiled ceaselessly through the day.  The blockage of stone seemed
endless, but at long last it became apparent that the wall was actually
decreasing.  All day the empty wagons had been loaded with rubble, and then
taken to be dumped into the deep raving below the drawbridge.  As the sun
began to slowly dip near the western horizon the blocked way was almost
open.  Just a few more hours and they would once again have a path from the
castle to the outer world.

"Lord, we are not going to be able to finish this task by darkness," Rood
said as he and Robin lifted another load of rocks into the back of a
waiting wagon.

"Perhaps not, but we will have destroyed their obstruction and can easily
clear the way for the wagons with the coming of first light tomorrow." The
men continued to work on as the canyon began to darken with the lengthening
shadows of evening.  Finally, Robin ordered the last of the wagons to dump
their loads and return to the palace.  The work crews began to relax and
regroup as they all started back up the canyon.

Suddenly, a piercing shriek assailed their ears, and two men closes to the
almost demolished barricade dropped to the ground under the weight of
several trolls leaping upon them from the rocks.  Robin, Rood and a number
of other armed men rushed to the rescue, but were quickly pushed back by a
black tide of the hairy bodies leaping from heretofore invisible openings
that suddenly appeared on the canyon walls.  The elves fought valiantly,
slicing and maiming with their silver blades, but for every twisted little
body they killed, several more rose up to take its place.  Robin felt as
though he were drowning in a viscous black sea of the creatures, his own
body coated with their sticky blood and smelling of carnage as still more
of the beasts came upon them.

Rood fought with redoubled efforts as he saw the creatures all but
overpowering the king.  As he hacked at another hideous face he felt a
lancing pain in his calf.  One of the little monsters had sunk its fangs
into his flesh.  He swung his sword low and severed the body from its head,
but even in death the teeth bit into his leg muscles.  Another creature
jumped onto his back and tried to reach his jugular vein.  As Rood twisted,
trying to dislodge this attacker, he felt his arms being pulled and slowly
sank under the combined weight of the trolls.  He finally realized he was
about to die.  He only hoped that Robin would manage to escape.

Suddenly the canyon was flooded with intensely bright light.  At first it
even blinded the fairies, but in a moment their eyes adjusted.  The trolls,
however, began to scream in terror and to run in circles, all thought of
fighting driven from their tiny minds.  Unable to see in the brightness
they bumped into each other and crawled around on the ground trying to find
the openings to their caves, without much success.

Robin called to his men to regroup and attack while they had the advantage.
"No!" a voice said in his ear.  It was a directed wind whisper projected to
him above the shrieks and cries of the trolls.  He recognized the voice of
Elnar.  "I cannot hold this light spell for long!  There is but time for
you to escape to the palace!"  Robin heeded the warning, calling a retreat.
The bright light began to flicker even as the men dashed down the canyon
toward the drawbridge.  Robin stayed to the last, making sure his people
could escape.  All that he could see remaining in the rapidly dimming
light, were the still scurrying trolls trying to avoid the brightness.  As
he looked, he saw another figure emerge from a stone door.  It was not a
troll, being much taller and thinner in stature.  It almost looked like a
man except that it was completely black, more like a living shadow of a
man.  It seemed to look toward Robin just as the spell ended and the
darkness again fell over the rocks.  Taking his last opportunity, the king
turned and ran for the drawbridge.

"Raise the bridge!" Robin shouted as he ran down the last few yards of the
canyon.  "Now!"  He could hear the squeals and grunts rapidly gaining from
behind him.  The chains tightened and the heavy wooden ramp began to slowly
rise from its position against the cliff.  Robin reached the end of the
canyon and jumped out into the intervening space, his hands just catching
hold of the edge of the drawbridge as it swung up.  He was lifted out and
up, dangling over the deep ravine as his men turned the winch to quickly
raise the bridge.  As Robin was hoisted out of the way a number of trolls
dashed after him, leaping and grabbing at empty space, only to plunge to
their rocky doom far below.

Robin pulled himself up and over the edge and as the bridge reached a forty
five degree angle, he let go and slid down to safety just within the castle
wall.  In a moment he was standing in the outer courtyard checking his men
and making sure that everyone was alright.  There were a few bites and a
couple of other superficial injuries, but for the most part the elves
managed to escape unharmed.

Robin began to search among the men for his captain of the guard to further
plan their strategy.  That was when he first became worried.  The more he
looked, the more apparent it became that Rood was not among the group.
Robin began asking for him but no one could remember seeing the guard after
the bright light.  One man recalled spotting the captain as he sank in a
sea of hairy bodies.  Panic rising in his chest, Robin ran to the stairs
and took them three at a time, dashing up to the battlements.  He leaned
over the wall scanning the dark canyon for any sign of his friend, but all
he could see were the retreating bodies of the trolls as they headed back
the way they had come.  Then he saw another sight, a tall figure moving in
the darkness.  As he watched, it approached the edge of the precipice and
seemed to look back over, directly at him.  He could discern two green,
glowing embers staring from the face of a shadow.  The black form was in
the shape of a man, but it had no depth, no features at all except for the
glowing eyes.  Then the twin pools disappeared as if an inner fire had been
extinguished.  The shadow moved back, away from the ravine and soon
disappeared.

In another part of the castle Rowana was having an argument with Caseldra.
The wizard's daughter had arrived in Esbereth by way of her homing crystal
to find almost all of the knights gone.  She ran into Rowana who was in
temporary command of the home guard.  "But you must see!" the dark haired
girl argued.  "Jennifer, Scott and Alex are in grave danger.  They were
taken prisoner by the same humans who captured Akuta.  We must bring help
to them."

"I understand all too well," Rowana countered.  "But our homeland is in
even greater danger.  The rock dwellers have laid siege to the palace by
blocking the canyon.  Robin and the others are working to open this even
now."

"Can we not take a small group to rescue our friends?"

"Not and leave anyone to defend the palace interior," Rowana told her.
"Fear not.  As soon as we have the chance, you and I shall discuss this
with the king."  But even as she spoke the men began returning from the
battle in the canyon.  Many were wounded with cuts and bites, but none
severely.

As Caseldra and Rowana assisted the wounded, Melcot came looking for his
spouse.  He and Rowana embraced.  "What is it, lord?" she asked, looking up
into her mate's blue eyes.  "I feel your anguish.  Have we lost any of our
people to the trolls?"

"Only one," he replied stoically.  "Rood."

The name cut like a dagger to her heart.  Caseldra dropped the basin of
water she was carrying and hurried to the side of her two friends.  "Not
Rood, my lord!  He is dead?" she cried.

"He is missing," Melcot replied.

"Then he is dead," she responded.  "For if the trolls take him they shall
drain his blood, and then devour his flesh."  Tears began to well in her
eyes.

"I cannot give up hope," Rowana said.  "I shall not accept his death.
Perhaps he has managed to elude the beasts and is hiding out there
somewhere.  When daylight reappears we may find him well."

"You saw not the army of creatures.  They overcame us like an ocean washing
a beach.  There is no place to hide.  Even so, their unnatural sense of
smell and dark vision would lead them to any living creature out there."
Melcot slumped into a nearby chair.  "We have lost both Rude and Akuta.
They were the leadership of the palace guard."

"My lord."  It was a young boy sent as messenger who had just arrived at
the guard house.  "The high king bids you come to meet with him in his
chambers," the lad said.  "He further requests you bring along the court
wizard and Keeper of Magic, the lord Elnar."

"Tell him I come anon," Melcot replied.  The lad bowed and turned to dash
off toward the white tower.

"My lord, may I accompany you?" Caseldra requested.  Rowana gave her a
stern look.  "I know much of the ways of trolls," the dark haired girl
added.  "As a child, I studied them in my father's books."

"Lady, this is not the time to mention the other problem," Rowana
cautioned.

"What other problem?" Melcot asked quickly.

"It is of no consequence to this matter," Rowana told her mate.  "Worry
not.  The lady Caseldra and I shall deal with it in our own manner."

* * *

"I learn slow," Akuta said in frustration.

"No, no," Sharon replied.  "You learn quickly."  She was astounded at how
quickly this blond giant was picking up English.  He started asking the
names of objects in the house almost as soon as they had entered.  While
she found him some clothing her brother had left, she kept providing him
with more and more words.  She then went to the kitchen and tried to find
something for them to eat.  There were some canned soups and vegetables in
the cabinets so she fixed what she could.  Akuta soon followed her to the
kitchen, dressed in blue jeans and a red flannel shirt, and again asked the
English names of items. After supper the two of them sat on the little
front porch and continued the lessons until she drifted off to sleep.

Sharon had awakened to the sound of birds singing outside the open window.
She remembered dozing on the front porch, and that was all, but now she
found herself lying in bed, completely undressed.  The strange alien must
have carried her in and stripped her.  She suddenly felt very vulnerable
with that thought.  The girl rose and padded to the closet to grab a robe,
then headed out to look for her guest.

Akuta was sitting cross legged on the floor of the front porch in what
appeared to be a meditation pose.  Sharon quietly opened the screen door
and tip toed out of the house.  As she did so, he turned to look at her.
"Good morning," she said, trying to smile reassuringly.

"Hell Ho, Shaw-rone," he responded.

"Hello, not hell ho," she corrected him.  "Do you want some breakfast?"

"Bray...break..." he stammered.

"Food?" she asked while pantomiming eating.

"No.  Learn speak?"

Sharon shrugged her shoulders and sat down beside him on the hard, wooden
floor.  It was as if she were tutoring a lingual genius.  He seemed to
retain everything he learned and had only a little difficulty mimicking the
English pronunciation.  Sharon cast her eyes appreciatively over his body.
He was about the same size as her brother Todd, but there the resemblance
ended.  Last night his skin had appeared as pale as to be almost albino
white, but now in the morning sun he had a golden tone to his complexion.
The shaggy, blond hair barely covered his ears which were one of his most
fascinating and unworldly features.  She had seen them in the lab, and now
tried to catch a glimpse of them as the light breeze from the lake ruffled
his hair.

Sharon looked into Akuta's aquamarine eyes.  It was like looking into twin,
blue green swimming pools.  She thought again of his putting her to bed
last night, his alien hands undressing her, his other worldly fingers
touching her body.  She expected to be repulsed, but instead she was
actually excited.  He was very handsome and physically attractive, and his
alienness held an odd appeal to her.

Sharon Gates was an average woman, not overly beautiful nor actually plain.
Her face and features were pretty enough, complimenting her firm figure.
And yet, all through high school and college she was always overlooked
because of her ordinary, average characteristics.  She blended in and was
easily lost in any group.  To compensate for this Sharon worked very hard
to excel academically.  She was determined to be outstanding somewhere.
The work paid off career-wise, and yet she was alone.  Boyfriends were only
temporary situations, never lasting relationships.  And here she sat,
trying to teach English to a man from another world while wondering what a
relationship with him would be like.

"I like you very much as well."  She reeled from the shock of realization.
At first she thought he had said the words, and then it occurred to her
that she hadn't actually heard a sound.  Yet she knew he had communicated
with her, and not only that, he had responded to what she was thinking.
"But I do not wish to have sex with you," came the next thought.  Sharon
blushed a bright red and turned quickly away, breaking eye contact with the
stranger.  This telepathy was a dangerous art, leaving too much of the
inside vulnerable.

"Sharone," Akuta said.  "Sharone, please."  He tried to get her attention,
but she resolutely kept her face turned away.  She didn't want him to see
the tears that came unbidden to her eyes.  She wasn't even really sure why
she was crying.  He must have just struck a nerve.

"Sharone, I sorry," Akuta said in a tone that cut her.  The voice contained
such anguish and empathy all at the same time.

"It's okay," she said, blinking back the tears.

He reached down and took her chin in his hands, lifting her face till she
was forced to look at him.  Again she felt the searing contact between
them, the communication that came somehow through the intense eye contact.
"You are very beautiful, and I have no doubt many men will find you
desirable.  However, I am bound to another.  I am unable to give my deep
love to anyone else."

"You're married?" she gasped, realizing the meaning he was imparting.
"God, this is so embarrassing!"

"No!" came the strong mental word.  "Love and emotion are never
embarrassing.  I love you in return.  I love you for who you are, and I am
grateful for the assistance you have rendered to me.  Withdraw not nor be
ashamed of your inner feelings just because I am unable to respond in the
same manner.  Cherish them for being the part of you that they are."

"Dr. Sorenson was right," she said as she reached up and touched Akuta's
face.  "You are so wise."

"I have no more wisdom than what is in your own heart.  All that is
necessary is that you learn to listen to it."  The contact became fuzzy and
unclear.  At first Sharon could not understand why, but as she tried to
look at the strange man sitting next to her, blurring in and out of focus,
she realized that her own tears were the source of the interference.  She
put her head down and wept freely while Akuta held her tightly.

* * *

"I don't believe this," Alex said to himself as he paced around the tiny
room in which he was confined.  "In every movie or TV show I've ever seen
there's always an air conditioning vent to crawl into.  How can they lock
me up in a room with no ventilation duct to escape through?"  The grill
covering the air conditioning to his cell was located in the middle of the
ceiling and measured approximately one foot by eighteen inches, certainly
not big enough to permit any human access to the duct work beyond.

As he mused on this quirk of fate, he heard keys in the door.  Two security
men opened it and indicated that he should follow them.  They silently
escorted him down the long, yellow corridor and then led him into another
office.  He was in the head security office facing one of the men who had
first questioned him.  "Have a seat, Mr. Madison.  Your friends will be
joining you shortly," the man said.

"So what's next?" Alex asked.  "You planning something exotic like water
boarding, or maybe something more traditional like thumb screws and the
rack?"

"Mr. Madison, have you been hurt?" the security chief asked in mock
concern.

"I'm being held captive against my will.  What do you call that?"

"We call that protective custody.  We have no idea what kind of threat to
the general public these aliens may present."

"Get real," Alex retorted as he rolled his eyes.  "And why haven't I been
allowed to call anyone?"

"This is a matter of national security.  We have had to declare Marshall
law."

"On the whole city of Waterford?"

"No," came the reply.  "Just on the areas involving the aliens."

"You guys are really crazy," Alex said with a laugh.  "Where are these
aliens you keep talking about anyway?  I don't see any."  The man looked
down at his desk, shuffling papers around and pointedly ignoring the
question.  The office door opened and Scott and Jennifer were escorted in.
"Hi, guys," Alex called cheerfully.  "You didn't tell them about plan nine,
did you?  You know, the one where the space monsters take over our bodies
when we fall asleep."  No one in the room seemed in the least amused.

"Now that you're all here..." the security chief began only to be
interrupted by the phone.  He picked it up and spoke quickly and quietly.
Hanging it up again he turned to the guard at the door.  "I've got to see
Dr. Westfall.  Don't let them out of your sight."  He then quickly left the
room.

Only moments later a knock came from the door.  The guard opened it and was
hit in the face with a spray aerosol that instantly knocked him out.  As he
fell to the floor, a pudgy little man in a rumpled brown suit stepped over
the body and firmly shut the door behind himself.  "It's you," he said as
he looked at the three surprised prisoners.  "You're the ones who were here
before when all those magnificent creatures disappeared."

"And you are?" Scott asked as the three stood.

"Emile Sorenson," the little man said as he locked the door behind himself.
"I was the acting director of this institute until Frank Westfall showed up
with his security forces and Gestapo tactics."  The little man wrung his
hands nervously.  "I thought I would help you get away like I did for the
alien, but there are just too many guards.

"The alien got away?" Scott asked excitedly.

"Yes, my assistant snuggled him out."

"Where is he now?" Alex asked

"Well, I don't know," Sorenson admitted.  "With Sharon, I suppose."

"Sharon?" Alex repeated, raising an eyebrow.

"My assistant, Sharon Gates."

"We've got to get out of here," Scott said urgently.

"I don't see how," Sorenson replied.  "And that fake call from Dr. Westfall
that I staged will probably only make more trouble."

"No prob!" Alex called triumphantly.  He had begun to ransack the security
chief's desk in hope of finding a gun or other weapon.  Instead he found
something much more valuable.  He reached into a drawer and lifted his
hand.  From it dangled a thin, silver chain holding a small pink stone.

"Rose quarts," Sorenson said disappointedly.  "The alien was wearing it
when they brought him in.  It's of no value."

"That's what you think," Alex relied.  "Let's get out of here."  Scott and
Jennifer huddled close to Alex.

"Dr. Sorenson, aren't you going to be in a bit of trouble here?" Jennifer
asked.

"I suppose so," the little man answered.

"Then why don't you come with us."

"Come?"  The scientist blinked his eyes in astonishment.  "What do you
mean?  We can't get out of here without being caught."

Jennifer smiled back at him.  "We have a way."  She held out her hand.  The
little man blinked again, then shrugged his shoulders and took her hand.
She reached out to grasp Alex's shoulder as he handed the talisman to
Scott, and then took his friend's arm.  Scott tapped the little stone with
his fingertips, and the group faded out of the office.

Moments later the guard began to revive and sat up rubbing his head.  The
door knob rattled and a pounding then began.  Slowly climbing to his
unsteady fee, the guard unlocked and opened the door allowing Westfall and
the security chief to burst into the room.  They looked around at the empty
office, then turned menacing glares on the befuddled guard

 

 

 

 

 

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